School board considers raises for top dogs tonight (May 28)

Daily Post Staff Writer

The Palo Alto school board tonight (May 28) will be discussing five-digit increases to the base salary ranges for top administrators, but Superintendent Don Austin said yesterday that the raises in the proposal wouldn’t be as large as they may sound.

The proposal would increase the salary ranges for five positions in Austin’s “executive cabinet” to all start at more than $200,000 per year without offering $5,400 annual car allowances, $3,200 longevity stipends every three to five years, $2,500 stipends for advanced degrees or $480 annual cellphone stipends.
The administrators will still be reimbursed for using their cars for work-related travel.

The affected positions are the deputy superintendent, chief business officer, both chief academic officers and the assistant superintendent of strategic initiatives.

For example, the current salary schedule lists the chief business officer’s base salary as between $188,481 and $208,048 per year. The proposed range is $240,000 to $270,122 in five salary “steps.”

Under the current system of stipends for advanced degrees and seniority, top administrators get an additional $2,496 each year per graduate degree and a $3,244 raise every three to five years once they’ve reached the top end of the base salary range.

Austin’s proposal would increase certain administrators’ base salaries but do away with those stipends.

The reformed salary schedule is an effort to comply with State Teachers Retirement System guidelines and to better align with the Association of California School Administrators, according to Austin.

Although the base salary ranges would be increasing by $17,900 to $62,000 per year, Austin said that none of the current administrators are actually up for raises that large when combining all of the elements of their employment contracts.

What they would make

Austin pointed out that Chief Business Officer Jim Novak, who is retiring next month after less than a year with the district, makes $265,000 per year.
Carolyn Chow, whom the board will decide whether to confirm as Novak’s replacement tonight, would be making $240,000 per year.

Under the proposed salaries, the deputy superintendent, a position that was created for Karen Hendricks last year, would be making between $240,000 and $270,122.

Hendricks is up for a raise from her current $240,000 to $247,200 per year. She was paid $223,884 as interim superintendent last year.

A proposed contract for Yolanda Conaway, whose position as assistant superintendent of strategic initiatives and operations is being renamed assistant superintendent of equity and student affairs, brings her to $212,592 per year.

Conaway was hired in July 2017 at a base salary of $196,063 per year.

Anne Brown, the district’s assistant superintendent for elementary education, has been offered a $218,969 contract under the proposal.

Brown, then the principal of Barron Park Elementary School, was tapped in October 2017 to serve as interim assistant superintendent of human resources on a $128,666 contract for 147 workdays, the equivalent of $196,062 for the assistant superintendents’ 224-day work year.

She became the assistant superintendent of elementary education in July.

Sharon Ofek, the district’s assistant superintendent for secondary education, is being offered $225,538 per year. In July 2016, she signed a contract that paid her a base salary of $196,063 per year.

Under that contract, Ofek is entitled to a 2% retroactive raise. Austin said none of the other members of the executive cabinet would be getting a raise for the year 2018-2019, though Hendricks, Novak, Brown, Ofek and Conaway are all being offered 2% bonuses on their current salaries.


  1. I’d be the first to support these raises if I saw that the top staff was competent and solving problems. But from what I’ve seen, they’ve blundered through one issue after another. The laughably bad Stanford deal showed me how bad our superintendent is. These people need to EARN these raises.

  2. thanks for laying out these numbers. i question whether raises like these are sustainable, especially if trump plunges us into a recession. i think the board should be pinching pennies and saving money in case things turn bad. i fear these administrators are taking advantage of the current high tax yields.

    • Not fair. The board will not approve of it. K12 and all education systems are not a trickle down Institute where the product “ the kids” bring in more revenue for the District. This is s greedy grab effort by the top brass. Looking for weaknesses of what once a loving a caring institution.

  3. Come on shesch!! They are asking for somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.5 % of raise for each of the next five years. Not Fair!!!! Are they some how solely responsible for the production of better student children? We have always shared the extra tax dollars in equal % of a raise. Plain and simple top brass greed in play here, don’t give it to them. The remaining 90 % of employees are getting less than half of that. We all provide equal amounts of blood sweat and tears for the kids. The district again diverts funds toward their higher pay Andy away from the security of the least of the PAUSD staff such as Bus drivers, kitchen staff and trades personal. Do they honestly think that getting a bigger piece of the pie to the top 1 % will trickle down as better gpa’s and SAT’s? Out of touch, this is a corporate executive politically wrong group of thinkers looking for easy prey. What s disgust.

  4. Greedy people never have enough money because of their thirst to take advantage of the weak. Never enough blood.

  5. I’ve worked for the district for over a decade and it’s rather sad to see those who are already making a lot, asking to make even more, seemingly on the back of those who can less afford it.

    Year after year, classified staff get the same percentage as others whose pay are that much higher, putting us further and further behind. And now we learn of this.

    This proposed raise for the top brass makes our recently approved raise and bonus feel like a deliberate move to appease us before the slap on the face.

    I’m generally not pro unions but times like this make me think they’re necessary.

  6. This is happening just a month after district leadership eliminated the Visual Art Coordinator position, stating that the $152K salary “could not be justified or sustained.” Now we see where that money is going. Right into their own pockets. Hmmm…

    I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

  7. This superintendent who makes 300k a year now has a cabinet of five people who each make over 200k plus a staff attorney at the 200k level — that’s 1.5 million dollars a year! We need to free up some of that money and put it back into the classroom.

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